After earning their first two wins on the season, the Niagara Knights men's volleyball program (3-3, 6th OCAA West) were looking to win once again and record a three-game winning streak against the Redeemer Royals (3-3, 5th OCAA West) on Friday night.
Things got off on the wrong foot for the Knights, as a rough first set went to the Royals, who won 25-15. The Knights would settle in, play their best volleyball of the season from there on out, however, as they took the next two sets (25-20, 25-16) thanks in part to some thrilling offensive attacks.
In the do-or-die fourth set for the Royals, they wouldn't succumb to the pressure as they forced a winner take all fifth set after pulling off a 25-17 win.
In that fifth set, each team would go back-and-forth, trading point for point. With the score only going up to 15 for the final set, both teams would find themselves with 11 points at one point. That was before a series of points by the Knights led them to a 14-12 lead and the match point. The Royals, whose deceptive-attacking game was strong all night long, would load up for what looked to be a huge kill, but the Knights' Micah Nieuwets (St. Catharines) would rise up and record an enormous stuff block to win the match for the Knights.
The Knights 15-12 set win would give them the 3-2 victory and extend their winning streak to three-games. For the first time this season, the Knights find themselves ranked in the official OCAA men's volleyball rankings, being named the ninth ranked team in Ontario.
Elijah Bugiardini (Hamilton), last week's Niagara College Male Athlete of the Week, had another strong performance. The second year opposite hitter had 14 kills and was great defensively as well, recording 5 digs.
Tristan Swinden (Whitby) was dominant all night long on the net, disrupting the Royals attacks by register a career-high seven stuff blocks. His seven blocks attributed to the 12 that the Knights had as a team. Their strong defensive presence was a major reason why they pulled off the win.
The Knights will hit the road to take on the Sheridan Bruins on Sunday, November 25th. The matchup is set to begin at 3pm.
Knights v. Royals